Our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and this has not been much of a topic of conversation until this year as our oldest daughter started preschool where she was exposed for the first time to the excitement other kids felt for all the festivities leading up to December 25th.
For background, the reason we don’t celebrate Christmas is for two reasons.
The first reason is because as followers of the Quran we are not to make distinctions between any of God’s messengers and therefore it is prohibited to celebrate the birth of one of God’s messengers, Jesus, at the exclusion of all the others.
Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.” – Quran 2:136
The second reason is that the Christmas holiday was founded on paganism which is also prohibited in the Quran. This may be controversial to some, but rather than taking my word for it I’ll defer to someone with more credibility amongst the Christian community, Pat Robertson.
Pat Robertson & Christmas
So what were we to do? In one hand, we would be defying the commandments of the Quran if we celebrated Christmas, and in the other hand we would be alienating our child for not being able to experience the excitement that her peers were having.
Therefore, we settled for a third option. We decided that as a family we would celebrate Hanukkah. While Hanukkah is traditionally only celebrated by people of Jewish decent its origins comes from the principle of freedom of religion.
The Story of Hanukkah
In summary, Hanukkah was founded to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees, who were fighting on the side of religious freedom to worship God freely, against Antiochus IV, who wanted to force people to worship his gods. This is a principle anyone can stand for despite the name of their faith, and is a truth that is heavily advocated in the Quran.
There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient. – Quran 2:256
Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers? – Quran 10:99
O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant. – Quran 49:13
To most people it may seem strange to follow the Quran and celebrate Hanukkah, but do you know which people are addressed the most frequently in the Quran? It is the Children of Israel. In fact, the Quran is replete with the history of the Jewish people.
O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I blessed you more than any other people. – Quran 2:47, 2:122
What unites us as believers is the devotion to God alone, and as believers we should put aside our prejudices and cherish the victories that grant us the freedom to worship God freely by the believers who came before us, irrespective of the name of their faith.
Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. – Quran 2:62 & 5:69
Culture is not something we are born with it is something we adopt. We can’t choose the land we are born, who are parents are, or what we look like, but what we can choose are the decisions we make and the principles we stand by. Hanukkah is founded on a beautiful premise that promotes monotheism and the freedom of religion, and as a follower of the Quran is something that I whole-heartedly adopt as a celebration to have with my family this year and for years to come, God willing.
Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD’s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had GOD willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny—all of you—then He will inform you of everything you had disputed. – Quran 5:48
May we all be appreciative of the freedoms we have.
– Salãmun ‘Alaykum (Peace be upon you) & Happy Hanukkah